Saturday, 24 June 2017

Roots of Bitterness

I ask for prayer for a family which is young in the faith and with whom we're working in counselling these days (no names no pack drill) who have grown somewhat cold in the faith owing to roots of bitterness which have become established in their lives. Sadly over the years we have observed how often just small issues can become major if we don't dig them out. Please pray.

Linked to 'roots of bitterness', but now in the physical sense, let me mention the battle we are now having with the Neem Tree and ask for prayer for this too. In a nutshell I discovered the Neem tree at a Christian Missionary workers conference someone kindly paid for me to go to years ago in the USA. My objective there was to learn more about the Moringa tree (which I did) but I learnt about Neem also. The advantages of Neem are: produces good quality wood / fast growing / gives good shade / always green / natural insecticide produced by leaves. The disadvantages are that the tree kills native bees / is uncontrolably invasive spreading like wild fire and suffocating native trees especially with a good rainy season like we've had this year.

We learn by our mistakes and from taking wrong advice. Please pray as we now battle to erradicate the Neem tree from Green Pastures which is no easy task. Green Pastures is divided into 3 main areas: the higher area up the top beyond the lake which doesn't have Neem fortunately / the main nature reserve area near the river which is badly invaded / the area when you arrived at Green Pastures where the school is, church is and camps are held. This has masses of Neem trees too but dealing with this area can be left till later. The big battle now is the main central reserve area.

The problem with Neem is that even when you chop them down and make fence posts from the wood - the roots (of bitterness) remain and the Neem keeps ressurging! The challenge is to erradicate them completely and definitively. 

Friday, 23 June 2017

St John's Festival

We are in the middle of the annual traditional St John's Festival. It's very nice of them to think of me like this but it does make things rather noisy! I went and slept at Green Pastures last night to get some peace. I was up before 4 am today and took the first photo of the day just as dawn was breaking at 5.16 am of a Striated Heron. The Festival ends on Sunday night.

I am ready to preach this Sunday in Patos. It will be a special meeting we do. A sort of evangelical version of the current festival glorifying Jesus. You might find it especially interesting to watch the live broadcast as people tend to dress up in regional dress for this service.

Tomorrow is the first Deaf Fellowship Conference which will also be transmitted live. That is the service at night will be. I will be taking part in this through an interpreter. The deaf will run the entire day themselves under the leadership of our deaf pastor Luiz Carlos.

The men's fellowship of our 1st Campina Grande church will spend tomorrow at Green Pastures for a day of fellowship.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Field Conference Report

I only now am getting to writing up the annual Field Conference report to send to all the leaders here. I just haven't had the time previously.

Yesterday morning I met the surgeon in João Pessoa who is going to fix my hernia and the surgery is set for either July 1st or 15th. He will confirm in a few days which of these dates but I hope its the 1st so as to get it over with. I value your prayers. 

I am all set to go at church tomorrow. I am looking forward to preaching on "Jesus overcoming myth and legalism" (John 5:1-18). It's a much more challenging text than initially meets the eye.

The youth are at Green Pastures today having a fun and fellowship day. Philip and Gylmara run this.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Oh boy! What a week!

I worked hard the rest of Monday and on Tuesday preparing my sermon for this Sunday. This is quite a complicated text to handle as verses 3b and 4 are not in the good original texts. Nevertheless it all worked out in the end and by Tuesday night I was ready to roll. It was just as well as on Wednesday morning we received two items of shock news which were to change our week.

First of all came the news than an old Patos church member had died in João Pessoa and Liz and I would have to set off later for the funeral. The other was the horrific news of the Grenfell Tower 24-storey block of flats in North Kensington just a mile from where I was born and brought up - the whole area of which we know like the back of our hand. When it is somewhere close to home like this it really knocks you for six! I am very sad at the news and very angry. It is unbelievable that 24 storeys of flats can be burnt out so quickly! Outrageous! I am glad the Prime Minister has ordered an independent enquiry as heads must roll and lessons be learned. To spend millions on coating the outside of such a block of flats with inflammable plastic demands more than jail - it demands a lunatic assylum!

On Wednesday afternoon Liz and I left for the wake of Sister Euda in João Pessoa and arrived there in the evening to find it wasn't a normal wake but rather a service with the body laying there in the middle in an open coffin as one after another spoke for hours! I finally got to bed after midnight!

This morning the funeral service was equally long and participative. It was marked for 8.30 am and Liz and I finally had lunch at 2 pm pretty exhausted. I was asked to speak in the funeral service which I did. The whole event went off fine. It was just very long.

Tomorrow morning (Friday - 16th) I have an appointment here in João Pessoa with the surgeon who is to fix my hernia to set the date for the surgery. Then we plan to head back to Patos via Green Pastures. The Married Couples Fellowship from the Patos church spent a nice bank holdiday at Green Pastures today with Philip coordinating the event. On Saturday the youth go there. The place is in non-stop use. Tomorrow we have a group of scientists moving in for 3 days reasearch again with butterflies.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Lovely Service

The main celebration service on Sundays is in the evening here in Brazil and is always transmitted live on Facebook to a large nationwide and worldwide audience. The service was really good yesterday with the church full as usual, the praise and worship was good and the ministry of God's Word flowed really well. PTL!

It is wonderful to see the people who are coming into the church. We are constantly seeing new people coming and some just keep coming until they eventually make a commitment to Christ. One lady of a spritist background, for instance, started coming months ago and asked me to pray for her health after a service. This I did and praise God she is improving from a serious health condition and we believe she will come through to faith in Christ.

This Monday morning I had a relaxing walk at Green Pastures. The rains have now finished, although we might yet get an odd shower this month. With just over 37 inches of rain this rainy season we have a lot to be grateful for. We had lots more rain that most areas. Everywhere at Green Pastures is a mass of wild flowers of all colours. Masses of butterflies and bees feed from them which is wonderful to observe. (photos below) There is still water in the stream so lots of Kingfishers are active. We have three species of Kingfishers here.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Ready to Preach!

I am fired up and ready to preach my 18th sermon in the series in John's Gospel in a few hour's time. I value your prayers. The sermon covers the last block of chapter 4. The service tonight will be transmitted live as usual.

Last night we went to the united churches annual outreach and our team did very well. It's always a good time to let the town know we're all around and a chance to meet up with evangelical Christians of all varieties.

I nearly forgot to mention the fact that I have worked flat out this week, where I could fit it in, writing more of the history of the work here for publication in Brazil. My very steep target is to publish the 80 year history of the work in 2018!

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Ken White with the Lord

Brother Ken White, who was chairman of the EAB Board and longtime EAB supporter, went to his heavenly reward yesterday (Friday - June 9th) I have just heard from his wife Pat. We praise God for Ken's life of service and dedication to God and missions and our prayers are with Pat and their children Peter and Sarah and the rest of the family.

I will inform on funeral arrangements as soon as I have them.